Beauty in the decay of autumn...
Lotus pond in 日坛 Ritan park, Chaoyang district, Beijing (September 29, 2022)
The lotus flower is maybe the most connected plant interwoven with Chinese culture since ancient civilization in many cultural and natural health dimensions.
蓮花 (lián huā), 荷花 (hé huā) or lotus flower ((Nelumbo Nucifera) is known as a gentleman’s flower growing out from the mud, pure and unstained. The plant symbolizes honesty, beauty, purity and integrity and can be found as metaphor in many poems, sayings and paintings since ancient times.
Song Dynasty philosopher, cosmologist and official 周敦頤Zhou Dunyi (1017-1073) praised the lotus in his essay 愛蓮說 “on the love of lotus”; “𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗼𝘁𝘂𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘀 𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗰𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗽𝘂𝗿𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗴𝗿𝗼𝘄𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗺𝘂𝗱, 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗲𝗹𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗹𝘆 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗯𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗹𝗶𝗿𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝘂𝘀.”
In Traditional Chinese Medicine; the lotus plant is not less impressive. According to Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, "𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗼𝘁𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝘃𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗼𝘂𝘀 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗺𝗼𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗹𝗲 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗯𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝗖𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗯𝗮𝗹 𝗺𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗲, 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝘀𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗰𝘁 𝗺𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀." The most widely used parts of the lotus in Chinese Medicine are lian zi (lotus seed), lian fang (lotus root receptacles) and lian ye (lotus leaf). But also the flower, stem, rhizome and the heart of the seed have their own distinct functionalities.
This wondrous plant of many uses has abundant unique properties in addition to being a powerful herb in Chinese Medicine. Its seeds are able to germinate after being dormant for over a millennium. Scientists believe this is due to a special enzyme, L-isoaspartyl, found in its seed. This enzyme allows the lotus seed to repair damage to proteins within its cell. Another interesting fact about the lotus is the "lotus effect" - a natural cleaning ability unique to the lotus plant. The surface structure of the leaf allows drops of water to roll off, taking dirt and insects with it while leaving the leaf clean and dry at all times.
And last but not least, the sight of lotus ponds during summer bloom but also in autumn decay are calming and spiritual inspirations for many people since ancient times…